Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1217, p. 158.
August 15, 1863
We have news from New York to the evening of the 1st inst. It is varied and interesting, though not of great importance.
General Lee "escaped," as the Northern journals described it, out of the Shenandoah Valley, and passed through Chester Gap to the east side of the Blue Ridge. On his march his rear was attacked by the Federals and 1200 cattle were lifted. The armies of Lee and Meade, after much marching and countermarching, have reoccupied the district in which they were established previous to the late Confederate invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The army of the Potomac is once more on the Rappahannock, in the vicinity of Falmouth, and the Confederate forces have assumed a defensive
Page 159position on the old, well-fought ground between Culpepper and Gordonsville. The Federals have, it is stated, seized the heights in the rear of Fredericksburg. General Lee officially denies General Meade's report of having captured a brigade of infantry and two pieces of artillery as Lee was retiring across the Potomac. "The enemy (he says) did not capture any organised body of men on that occasion, but only stragglers and such as were left asleep on the road, exhausted by the fatigue and exposure of one of the most inclement nights I have ever known at this season of the year. No arms, cannon, or prisoners were taken by the enemy in battle, but only such as were of necessity left behind."
It is officially announced that the famous Confederate partisan leader General Morgan has been captured in Ohio, with several of his officers and about 400 of his troopers.
A body of 2,500 Confederates, under Pegram and Scott, crossed the Kentucky River, but were attacked at Paris and repulsed, after severe fighting. Martial law was proclaimed in Kentucky, in consequence of the invasion of that State by the Confederates. The latter were beaten at Winchester, and driven towards the Cumberland River.
In the West Rosencranz [i.e. Rosencrans], a Federal leader, was organising his forces to attack Atalanta [sic] , for the defence of which important place and the railway to Chattanooga great preparations were in progress. A rumour was afloat that Rosencranz had captured Chattanooga on the 16th of July; but the information on which it rests is not mentioned, and later dates represent the city as still in possession of the Confederates. It is certain that Brashear City had been taken possession of by the Federals. Grant's army was, however, falling back on the Big Black River; and Johnston, said to have been reinforced by Bragg, was thought to intend making the Mobile and Ohio Railway, from Okalona on the north to Mobile on the south, his line of defence. Federal General Herran's division had left Vicksburg for Mobile.
At Charleston, the persistent attacks of the Federals had still been repulsed. On the 18th ult. Fort Wagner, after having been bombarded, was stormed; but the assault was thrown back with heavy slaughter--Confederate accounts say 2000 killed and wounded. A week subsequently James Island was abandoned by the Federals as untenable. On the 24th and 25th the bombardment of Wagner was renewed, with what result is not stated; and the Federals had strengthened their position on Morris Island. We learn by telegraph to Farther Point, on the evening of the 1st inst., that General Gilmore has abandoned for the present the notion of taking Fort Wagner, the shells making but a slight impression upon the sand of which the fort is composed. General Gilmore is said to be confident that his siege-guns will reach Fort Sumter.
The details of the proceedings in Charleston Harbour to the 26th of July are epitomised as follows by the New York World:--"Our military and naval forces were still engaged in the siege of Fort Wagner, and everything was going on favourably. General Gilmore had succeeded in erecting a heavy battery of siege-guns, each weighing twenty tons, within 1000 yards of Fort Wagner. Fort Sumter and Fort Johnson, on James Island, kept up a continual fire on the Federal forces on Morris Island, but with little effect, our casualties averaging only about six a day. The assault on Fort Wagner failed, it is said, for the want of daylight. The ironclads kept up a steady fire till our troops reached the fort, the rebels meanwhile hiding under bombproofs. The instant the vessels ceased firing they were hurriedly formed for battle, and our soldiers, as they entered, were mown down by whole companies at a time by the concentrated fire of the 2500 rebels within the fort. Darkness coming on, friend could not be distinguished from foe, and our forces were compelled to retire."
The Provost Marshal General had ordered the draught in New York to be carried out, and the 3rd was mentioned as the day for its resumption. A bitter controversy continues between the Republican and the Democratic press concerning the constitutionality and policy of enforcing the draught; also between the State and Federal officials who were engaged in quelling the late riots. The Mayor of New York, Major Opdyke, had vetoed the City Council's appropriation of money for draughted men.
The following is from the Richmond Inquirer, Mr. Davis's own organ:--"Riot, murder, and conflagration have begun in New York. It is a world's wonder that this good work did not commence long ago; and this excellent outbreak may be the opening scene of the inevitable revolution which is to tear to pieces that most rotten society and leave the Northern half of the old American Union a desert of blood-soaked ashes. We bid it good speed. The news is cheering to us, indeed, because it portends the breaking down of the whole structure of Yankee society. Yet the process may be long; and in the meantime the desperate energy of their war for the conquest of the Confederacy may grow more furious for a season. No matter; we can at least now see to the end of it. This one insurrection may be suppressed for the moment, but it will be the parent of other and still worse convulsions. Yet a little while, and we shall see the giant but hollow bulk of the Yankee nation bursting into fragments, and rushing down into perdition in flames and blood. Amen."
Not the least significant feature of the American struggle is the receipt of letters from a new special correspondent of the Times, who writes after this fashion:--
The South has been wearied out and used up, if not conquered. The Federals may meet more than repulse at Charleston; but so they did at Fort Donelson, at Vicksburg, at Port Hudson, and all these strongholds ended by falling into their hands. A cause that shelters behind walls and trenches may be looked upon as hopeless. The Mississippi is lost, and Jackson, Mobile, and most of the Southern cities, with Charleston and Richmond itself, are likely--are sure--to follow. Lee alone is the Southern tower of strength, and we incline to think him still unbroken; and so long as he holds his ground he is fully a match--more than a match--for the adversary he has now in front. But vast forces are said to be moving from the West to the South-West. Grant, Rosencranz, and other leaders, elated with recent success, are expected to breathe a new spirit into the councils of the irresolute Meade, and to infuse fresh blood into the sluggish army of the Potomac. Before the contending parties are again likely to venture on a decisive contest, it is confidently asserted that the Northerners will be more than two to one against the Secessionists.
President Davis has issued the subjoined proclamation, urging the people to receive in thankfulness the lesson taught them in the recent reverses, and appointing Aug. 21 as a day of fasting and prayer:--
Again do I call upon the people of the Confederacy--people who believe that the Lord reigneth, and His over-ruling Providence ordereth all things--to unite in prayer and humble submission under his chastening hand, and beseech His favour on our suffering country. It is meet that when trials and reverses befall us we should seek to take home to our hearts and consciences the lessons which they teach, and profit by the self-examination for which they prepare us. Had not our success on on land and sea made us self-confident and forgetful of our reliance on Him? Had not the love of lucre eaten like a gangrene into the very heart of the land, converting too many of us into worshippers of gain, and rendering them unmindful of their duty to their country, to their fellow-men, and to their God. Who, then, will presume to complain that we have been chastened, or to despair of our just cause and the protection of our Heavenly Father? Let us rather receive in humble thankfulness the lesson which He has taught in our recent reverses, devoutly acknowledging that to Him, and not to our own feeble arms, is due the honour and the glory of victory; that from Him, in His paternal providence, come the anguish and sufferings of defeat; our humble supplications are due to His footstool. Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of these Confederate States, do issue this my proclamation, setting apart Friday, the 21st day of August ensuing, as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer; and I do hereby invite the people of the Confederate States to repair, on that day, to their respective places of public worship, and to unite in supplication for the favour and protection of that God who has hitherto conducted us safely through all the dangers that environed us. In faith whereof I have hereunto set my hand and the seal of the Confederate States, at Richmond, this 25th day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three.
Mr. Stephens, Vice-President of the Southern States, was making a tour of the Confederacy. On the 17th ult. he made a speech at Charlotte, North Carolina, in which he expressed confidence in the military genius of General Lee, and declared that the South had previously sustained more serious blows than the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson. Final and complete separation from the North was, he said, the only terms on which peace could be secured, and rather than submit to anything short of that they would all, he trusted, "die like men worthy of freedom."
The Southern journals, although acknowledging the late reverses, appear still confident of the ultimate independence of the South.
Among the items of intelligence are the announcement of the death of Mr. Crittenden, the author of the famous "Crittenden compromise," and the statement that the library and papers of President Davis had been seized at Jackson, Mississippi, by the Federals.
Another item of news, most important if true, is that President Davis has proposed an offensive and defensive alliance to Louis Napoleon, who is tempted with the acknowledgment by the Confederate Government of the French Protectorate in Mexico and a modification of the "domestic institution."
Both the New York Herald and Tribune concur in stating that the Federal Government has notified England that the sailing of privateers from English ports will be considered an unfriendly act.
The United States' District court has condemned the cargoes of the steamers Peterhoff, Springbok, Gertrude, and Liorvi.
Perhaps the most significant and important piece of news by the last arrival is a recommendation of the Southern journals that, if the decision in the case of the Alexandra be affirmed in England, the Confederates should promptly avail themselves of it to give a deathblow to Northern commerce and strike some Northern cities.
The Confederate cruiser Florida was at Bermuda repairing and taking in coal from a Confederate vessel, a supply of that article having been refused by the authorities. It was asserted that she had, since June 18, destroyed twelve vessels, and that she had transferred 500,000 dols. in silver bars to a steamer bound for Wilmington.
The Federal cruisers are making sad havoc among the steamers and sailing-vessels engaged in running the blockade. Intelligence was received on Monday at Liverpool of the capture of the Confederate blockade-runners Emma, Merrimac, Lizzie, Kate Dale, Kate, and the destruction of the Racoon, by the Federal cruisers off Charleston, while attempting to run the blockade. The Merrimac was captured by the gun-boat Iroquois, on the morning of the 25th ult., after a chase of seven hours, having run the blockade of Wilmington on the previous night. The Merrimac is a side-wheel steamer of 535 tons and 600-horse power, and was built in London in 1862 for the Confederate Government. At the time of her capture she had on board 576 bales of cotton and 34 half bales, eleven casks of tobacco, and a large quantity of turpentine, &c. The Lizzie was captured on the l5th ult., after a chase of two hours, by the Santiago de Cuba, while attempting to run into Wilmington. Her cargo consisted of brandy, dry goods, provisions, &c. The Emma was captured on the 24th ult. by the United States' transport Arago. The Emma was loaded with cotton, rosin, turpentine, and tobacco, and was commanded by Captain Leslie, a half-pay British naval officer. Although the Arago was only a transport, and had not a gun on board, yet the Emma surrendered without a shot being fired. The Emma was owned in London by Hart and Tennett. The Racoon, one of Frazer and Trenholme's blockade-breaking fleet, was chased ashore while trying to run into Charleston, and completely destroyed by a Federal gunboat.